I was never really a sporty kid. I played soccer and tennis to be social but my real love was the arts. As the daughter of an artist and an engineer, I was never more at home than when I was creating and inventing things. That was one of the reasons I looked forward to overnight camp in Maine every summer. A full summer of arts and crafts, pottery, sewing and leather working always awaited me. Supplies abounded and counselors looked to spark my imagination. The opportunity to experiment with new mediums and projects was always there. It was Nirvana.
Flash forward 30 years later and my girls are now attending the same Maine summer camp I did. Like me, they love the arts and look forward to arts classes, ceramics and sewing. But these days at Maine Camp Experience (MCE) Camps, friendship bracelets and tie-dye are just the beginning of the creative fun. Maine Camps now offer silversmith studios fully outfitted for jewelry making and campers are simulating Project Runway and creating personalized fashions in the sewing studio. Woodworking shops have been transformed from a shed with some hammers to fully equipped shops where campers can learn safety skills and building techniques while utilizing hand and power tools to create benches, clocks and even baseball bats.
Opportunities for creativity now abound. MCE art studios have become the exploratory hubs for art, crafting, building and invention. I am dazzled by the many visual art options ranging from Print Making to Basket Weaving to Theater Set Design. While ceramics has always been a camp favorite, these days Pottery Studios are equipped with multiple clay wheels and kilns. Next door in the stained glass studio, campers can cut, shape and fuse scraps of glass, transforming them into brightly colored butterfly shaped sun catchers, monogrammed window panes and beautifully patterned jewelry.
Is your child a Top Chef? One of the more popular activities at many MCE camps are cooking classes where campers can talk about nutrition, learn basic culinary and knife skills, grow vegetables in the garden and then enjoy the fruits (and sweets!) of their labor.
If that weren’t impressive enough, many MCE Camps also have digital studios where they offer classes in Comic Book Illustration, Animation, Lighting & Sound, Radio Broadcasting and Video Production and Editing. Some MCE camps even offer STEM electives such as electronics, circuits and even “Mad Science” classes.
And focusing on the creative arts no longer means you are tucked away in the back woods. Many of our MCE Camp arts facilities overlook the waterfront so campers can enjoy the beautiful Maine outdoors while working on their projects. Campers interested in painting and drawing take classes near the water. Digital and/or film photography is available for campers who want to capture unique perspectives of the outdoors. Campers looking to experiment and build can enjoy rocketry in the open fields. One camp even offers an outdoor kitchen for cooking classes!
Another new change that has occurred since I was a kid is that now the arts experience has now been integrated into daily camp life. No longer are only the sports stars and performing arts celebrated. Today, many Maine Camps are putting their campers’ creations on display in the lodge and dining room for other campers to see. A few camps are even hosting regularly scheduled art shows that the entire camp attends which feature the innovations of their campers. The entire camp will gather for a tour of the creative pieces created, and camper guests are even encouraged to share written compliments for the artists.
The opportunity to innovate and take creative risks at an early age really had an impact on the adult I became. My early creative explorations gave me the confidence to take chances, think outside of the box, find joy in the accomplishment of completing a project and discover skills I never had considered possible. I can only imagine the new talents and interests my daughters will discover this summer. I have no doubt that they will be ones that will bring pleasure for a lifetime!
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.